44 Tour Operators graduated from the Department of Tourism’s Tour Operator Incubator Programme during the 2023rd edition of Africa’s Travel Indaba’s three-day event.
The event which took place at the side-lines of the tradeshow welcomed the new cohort of tourism professionals who successfully completed the Programme that the department has been conducting for tour operating businesses since 2020.
The aim of the programme is to create, implement and manage a National Emerging Tour Operation Incubation for a period of two years, where a total number of 44 tour operator businesses across all nine Provinces participated.
The incubator model and approach were guided by practical findings from business assessments, individual SMME growth-plan development and the local specific realities of each incubate.
According to Deputy Minister Mahlalela, Tour operators are the golden thread that weaves an unforgettable experience for the tourist. He further said that such operators provide a seamless experience from booking to arrival and the subsequent tour package, with tailor-made packages, tour operators synergise and align the various booking platforms.
“Tour operators are the first point of contact with the host country and sets the scene for the visit. Already it creates both the expectation and anticipation. This programme offers business development assistance to small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMME) operating in the tourism industry-focused on tour operators.”
The Deputy Minister said the incubator model and approach was guided by practical findings from business assessments, individual SMME growth-plan development and the local specific realities of each incubate.
“This sector needs truly a radical transformation as it remains insufficiently inclusive and faces high barriers to entry due to the need of specialized knowledge, exposure to various offerings across the country, networking with in-bound operators, expertise in product and service pairing and packaging for a diverse market,” said Deputy Minister Mahlalela”.
Mahlalela said that business development needed analysis to be identified through engagements with the 44 Tour Operators under incubation included access to finance, market access support, business networking platforms as well as Green Energy Efficiency Incentives or Capital.
“The Department of Tourism in response to support the small businesses in the sector, provided business compliance support to 37 entries on areas of transformation, SARS, license, B-BBEE and CIPC, access to market facilitated to 21 tour operators.”
Among the graduates to the programme are Gloria Makwala from Usimati Tours in Mpumalanga who said, “This programme assisted me to grow my company and introduced me to the various marketing platforms. It also taught me how to build partnerships”.
Mpho Ramothwala from Boke Tours shared, “This programme has been immensely beneficial to me as it connected us with product owners. Thank you to the Department of Tourism for this amazing opportunity”.
Also Linda Sithole of Plum Orchard Safaris mentioned that, “This programme has meant everything to me as I now know how to operate a business. It has connected me to new suppliers and partners”.
A total of 84 partners secured finance to the value of R950, 000.00 facilitated for incubates. It also provides Business System Improvement to 15 enterprises, Business Operational plans developed for 13 enterprises and Improvement of ICT capacity to 44 incubates.